MATAT’RON AND THE UNTOLD MYSTERY OF CHANUKAH
MATAT’RON AND THE UNTOLD
MYSTERY OF CHANUKAH
“In the Jewish mystical tradition, Chanukah belongs to a period older than itself by close to 5,000 years, and refers to the great mystical master Chanoch, or Enoch, famous for being taken up into the Heavens alive (Genesis 5:24). Before this occurs, Chanoch is described as “walking God” (literal reading of the Hebrew). It is sort of like he gives God a guided tour of the Creation Manifested, and God in turn gives Chanoch a guided tour of Creation in Divine Thought until the two merge as one and Chanoch is taken up alive to become Matat’ron מטטרון, the highest of the angels (Zohar, Vol. 1, folio 27a and Vol. 3, folio 283a).
Chanoch is recorded as “walking God” twice (Genesis 5:22 and 24). He takes God on a tour of the darkness of the world and of the lightness of the world, of the positive and of the negative, of the hatred and of the love, of the sadness of the world and of the joyfulness of the world. And the more they walk together, the more the constricted pathways to Eden begin to loosen their tightness for Chanoch, to the point that he eventually finds himself in the primeval arena of Eden itself, the very cauldron of Genesis, the very Thought of God. And there, in turn, the angels impart to him wisdom from beyond the beyond and from within the within (Tosefot L’Zohar, Vol. 2, folio 277a).
At the beginning of Beginning, Genesis opens up with בראשית berei’sheet, which etymologically breaks down to two words: Bara ברא and שית Sheet. ברא means “Created”, or “Externalized”. שית means “Garment”. Creation is then described in the Torah as the drama of God moving Itself beyond Itself, externalizing an aspect of Its Inner Essence to become the Embodiment of Genesis, the Mantle of Creation, the Divine Space within which the unfolding of all would be enabled. As is written: “You enrobed Yourself in splendor and majesty; donned Light like a mantle” (Psalms 104:1-2).
This great Divine Light, however, slowly began to ebb as the world began to fall apart and humanity started ripping at the seams (Genesis 6:6). And the angels rolled their eyes and restrained themselves from saying to God: “See? We told you so. We warned you to leave well enough alone and not create Humans” (Midrash Bereisheet Rabbah 8:6). But lo and behold! In the arena where only angels can flourish, walked now a mortal, a man named Chanoch, who was gradually becoming enrobed in the very Light that was slip-sliding away from Creation. Here now walked a Human, elevating hope and possibility, and embodying all that was Divine, like the very angels who had once contested his existence altogether. And the Light returned to the world and remained to this day. For it is said that Chanoch, who is now Matat’ron, swoops down upon our world now and then to rekindle our dying hopes and illuminate the dimness of our long-forgotten dreams and visions of a better world. In the words of the Zohar, Chanoch – as Matat’ron — softens things for us when the world draws upon itself too much Divine Judgment (Tosefot L’Zohar, Vol. 2, folio 277b).
He is Chanoch. He is Chanoch, the angelic force responsible for our world. He is חנוכ to whose name is added the letter הwhich symbolizes this world (Talmud Bav’li, Menachot 29b), thus transforming his fuller name to חנוכה Chanukah (16th-century Rabbi Yeshayahu ben Avraham in Sefer Ha’Sh’LaH, Ha’ga’ho’t L’sefer B’reisheet, Va’yeshev, Miketz, Vayigash, Torah Ohr, Ch. 12 – Menorah). And so, every year when we approach the Winter Solstice, the period of ever-increasing darkness and ever-ebbing light, we draw from the inspiration of Chanoch, the kindler of Divine Light in the world, and we kindle our menorahs with ever-increasing flames as we scale the fence of Darkness back into Light on the other side of the Solstice. After all, it was Chanoch, as Matat’ron, who showed Moses the image by which he was to sculpt the original Menorah in the desert (Tikunei Zohar, folio 119b).”